Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dinner for under $10

I'm working on Stefania's $10 Dinner Challenge. (Dinner for four for under $10!) So far, I'm on my third attempt! My first attempt was going to be this:
Pork chops with mushroom orzo pasta and smashed peas. But, when I went to add it up, I went over:
  • meat $6.32 (I bought an entire loin at Costco for $18.47 and divided into three portions).
  • mushrooms $1.75
  • orzo pasta $1.49
  • peas (half a bag of frozen store-brand baby peas) $.69
  • onions (sweet walla walla are my downfall) $1.63
  • 3 teaspoons of chicken base $.47
  • 4 tablespoons of butter $.40
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil (for frying pork chops) $.40
  • flour (for dusting pork chops) $.05
  • sliced tomato $0 (from my garden)
TOTAL $13.20

Next I thought instead of making the orzo, I'd just make some plain pasta with jarred sauce and I'd add some panko crumbs to the pork chops to jazz them up a bit, like so:
And this seemed to work:
  • meat $6.32
  • organic Coscto pasta $.99
  • 1/2 jar of Fransisco Renaldi $.75
  • peas $.69
  • oil $.50
  • Panko crumbs $.50
  • 1 egg $.16
TOTAL $9.92

And this would've worked had I not decided that I just didn't WANT plain old peas for dinner, especially not when I had $3.73 worth of fresh baby asparagus in the fridge. Then I used way more than a cup of panko bread crumbs and an extra egg and then we put Parmesan cheese on the pasta as well. The total cost ended up being more like $14.37.

But it was yummy!

Tonight I'll make my FINAL attempt!
  • Broiled chicken thighs $4.87
  • Yukon gold mashed potatoes $3
  • Butter $.60
  • Heavy cream $.50
  • Fresh green beans $1
  • 1 teaspoons chicken base $.16
TOTAL $9.63

I'll let you know how it goes after I cook tonight, but it's definitely been eye opening. When Stefania asked me to participate, I told her I though MOST of our dinners cost under $10, but I was obviously wrong. I think it's a two-fold problem: meat and vegetables. The piece of pork loin I cooked last night was over 2 pounds. We eat A LOT of food at every dinner. The kids and I shared ONE of the pork chops pictured above, but Dave? ate THREE. I used the three leftover pieces for two lunches for him.

Fresh veggies cost SO MUCH more than frozen. I went to Fred Meyer yesterday and spent $9.42 on POTATOES. Sure, I bought over nine pounds of Yukon Gold deliciousness, but that's only going to stretch into 3 meals for us. (Tonight as a side dish and then a double recipe of Shepherd's Pie; I always cook an extra one for the freezer). I spent over $3.00 on green beans (again for three meals), but frozen? It would've been half that cost for even more beans. I can also almost NEVER find asparagus for less than $3.99 a pound and it was on sale for $2.69, so I bought one bunch for $3.73. It adds up!

How much do you spend on the average dinner for four? I really had never thought about it before Stefania's challenge!


Carrisa said...

Ok now I totally want to take this challenge. I only cook for two, but I can invite a couple people over. Or have leftovers.

I always buy frozen veggies. Not only are they cheaper but they are frozen so soon after picking that they tend to hold on to their nutrients better than fresh. Or so I'm told. We go through a lot of frozen broccoli and frozen green beans.

I love buying boneless, skinless chicken thighs and marinating them in soy sauce, garlic, and lemon juice and then grilling them. They are so yummy.

Anonymous said...

For us it's 3 , but count it as 4, my husband comes home for lunch & enjoys leftovers.
Living in Ca, fresh veggies all the time.But TJ & farmers markets aren't too pricey ,yet.
The majority of dinner cost is on meat, husband & four yr old love scallops, shrimp, lamb , high quality beef.
An average dinner $9-15 nightly.
I loved your blog on what you will & won't feed your family. It's very similar to what I will & won't feed mine.